When I previously commented, I listed the two obvious touching contributions of the book. Now that I' continue to reflect on it, I realize there were two more: (1) the admirable, rugged, high plains mentality of the Montana people, and (2) the psyche, camaraderie, and work of the Smoke Jumpers. Now, I think I understand who they are and more precisely what they do.
For perhaps the worst three years of the 'Secret War' (1970 - 73) I was one of Jerry's favorite Air America pilots for 'behind the lines' recon flights and actual pickup and drop-off of Hmong soldiers (close enough to the fighting that parked on the ground unloading troops, hunks of dirt from incoming NVA or Pathet Lao grenades was hitting the side of my PC6 Porter).
I bought the book, and read it, and was very much impressed! Not so much about the 'war,' I already knew that - but: (1) about the Montana boy Gayle allows us to know, and does so in the most novel and artful and effective way, and (2) the plight and humanity of the Hmong people!
Kudos to the construction and assembly of a story that deserved telling.
Missoula News/Independent Publishing |
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